Gonzales man gets seven-year sentence in vehicular homicide

A state district judge in Ascension Parish sentenced a Gonzales man Monday to seven years in prison for his role in a September 2012 fatal crash, prosecutors said.

A six-person jury convicted Ashton Claiborne, 31, 2212 S. Robert Ave., Gonzales, in March of vehicular homicide in the Sept. 28, 2012, crash that killed Carolyn Brouillette, 56, of Prairieville.

Judge Ralph Tureau, of the 23rd Judicial District, sentenced Claiborne during the hearing at the Parish Courthouse Annex in Gonzales. Tureau suspended the last two years of his seven-year sentence. Claiborne also will serve two years of supervised probation, court minutes say.

Of the five years Claiborne must serve in prison, the first three must be at hard labor without the benefit of probation or parole.

Claiborne, who faced between five to 30 years in prison, has been free on bail. He was taken into sheriff’s custody Monday, attorneys said.

State troopers have said Brouillette was driving a 2013 Lincoln south on La. 73 when Claiborne tried to pass her in a no-passing zone on the two-lane highway early that morning.

Claiborne’s sport utility vehicle crashed head-on into a 2012 Mack cement truck, which then hit Brouillette’s vehicle, troopers said. The crash shut down La. 73 between Airline Highway and La. 42 in the Oak Grove area for most of that day.

Claiborne’s blood-alcohol level was found to be 0.09 percent three hours after the crash, prosecutors have said. In Louisiana, a blood-alcohol content of 0.08 percent is considered presumptive evidence of drunken driving.

Defense attorney Stephen Sterling III said he and his client disagreed with the jury verdict in March and subsequent sentence Monday, saying Claiborne suffered from Type I diabetes, which can give false positives for alcohol intoxication.

“The jurors just didn’t see it our way at the end of the day,” Sterling said.

Sterling said he plans to appeal both the March verdict and the sentence.

District Attorney Ricky Babin, who prosecuted the case, said Monday that the driver of the cement truck was not charged in the crash. Babin said the collision with Claiborne took out the truck’s steering column.

As part of his sentence, Claiborne also must attend one Alcoholics Anonymous meeting per week for a year and pay a $2,000 fine and probation fees.

Claiborne still faces a count of vehicular negligent injuring for the injuries suffered by the cement truck driver in the crash.

He also faces a first-offense driving while intoxicated count in East Baton Rouge Parish, which he got eight months before the deadly wreck.

The 23rd Judicial District encompasses Ascension, Assumption and St. James parishes.